Got to visit tons of family on a Mother’s Day week visit up north in Edmonton, as quality time with mom and dad, my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew and an uncle and aunt were in the cards.
Plenty of good memories to tug at the heart strings, along with a regular dose of observations on the human condition:
ROAD LESS TRAVELED: Decided to switch things up this time around and travel up to Edmonton on a route I had never traveled before. Usually opting for the common Highway 2 route, I decided instead to go up Highway 36 past Brooks, then turn onto Highway 13 and make my way into Camrose, before turning again on Highway 21. While a little worried I was going to lose my way without a faithful GPS on my dashboard, I’m glad I did it. Went through a bunch of little towns I had never even heard of before despite being the primary province I’ve lived in during my lifespan. I must admit, some stretches of road and scenery gave off an odd, Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe. But, for the most part, lots of beautiful scenery worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting.
WORDS OF WISDOM: The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend. While the saying originated in fourth-century B.C. in India, it made its way to my week’s vacation. Visiting an old journalism school chum in Leduc, I managed to get him to wear one of two Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys I packed as a heated series between my beloved Penguins and the Washington Capitals was in full force. While I joked that he should wear it, knowing he is a long-suffering Oilers fan, I was surprised he actually wore it. But before I started thinking I had converted a hockey fan as we watched a playoff game, he quickly interjected, ‘I just hate Ovechkin.’ Fair enough…much like when uncommon bedfellows Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin put their differences aside to rise against the Nazis in World War II, my friend and I found common ground as beer-swilling hockey fans…beat the Capitals…and they did.
MOMENTS WITH MOTHER: My co-workers were aghast to hear that as my trip to Edmonton neared, I had not yet secured a Mother’s Day present for the one who gave birth to me, as my parents were flying to Edmonton for the family gathering. I shrugged it off, as I never understood how a gift she may not even like is supposed to be some grand gesture of how much one loves another. Have I been a perfect son to my mother? Not even close…but I try. I try by doing the little things. Does that mean grandiose gifts, no, it means memories. It means regularly using my vacation time to visit my parents who are a province away in British Columbia. It means making an effort to call multiple times a month to stay connected and ending each Skype conversation with ‘love you lots.’ It means despite being in my 40s, still getting all teary-eyed with that final hug after a visit in which we part ways. It means a carefully-picked card with personally-written poetry inside and an adopted song with Boyz II Men’s ‘Song for Mamma’ playing on Mother’s Day. My sister and brother-in-law gave my mom the very memorable experience of tickets to go see The Who. I’m imagining as we wind down in our lives, these all will be the types of things I hope a mother would remember as opposed to a pair of hoop earrings or comfortable pajamas. No one is going to remember the possessions one had, but rather the memories one made.
DEAD SEXY: Speaking of The Who, the presence of lead singer Roger Daltrey and the mystique of guitarist Pete Townshend is as strong as ever with the duo now in their 70s.
With rock-star tongue-in-cheekness, Townshend talked about how he can go into any bathroom he wants, in obvious reference to the transgender bathroom debate, as the group kept abreast of other Canadian topics like the band’s first gig in Edmonton and applauding the efforts to help Fort McMurray fire victims.
Playing such favourites as ‘Who Are You,’ ‘The Seeker’ and ‘My Generation’ and then ending with ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, an amorous fan flung her bra onto the stage.
Ahhhh…to be a rock star. Still catching the eye of female fans as they rock in their 70s, it made me jealous.
I have yet to have a female reader fling her bra into my office after reading one of my columns. I guess I still have 30 years for that.
KID N’ PLAY: Some people would call me immature in reference to my sense of humour and choice of attire with joke T-shirts…I prefer to refer myself as ‘young at heart.’
But as I played with my nephew at my sister’s house and threw back-and-forth my nephew’s bouncy ball, I came to a fashion realization. The bouncy ball had colours of sky blue, emerald green, bus yellow and creamsicle orange…the exact same colours on the stripes of my stocks.
I just have to fully embrace the concept that perhaps I do have a Peter-Pan complex. But, I can still be an old soul with a youthful spirit…nothing wrong with that.
ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE: As I played with my nieces and nephew, I must admit, I yearned to have their perspective. The way my nephew looked at the tadpoles down by the lake near his house, the shrieks of delight in hide and seek, the way my youngest niece Kalea smiled back from a simple goofy face I gave her…it’s a time where everything is so new.
As adults we tend to get in our routines where new can be scary. While a lot of things are new simply from a youth’s lack of experience, even if we have decades of experience under our belts, as adults we should not be afraid to try new things. We may find some extras smiles we never knew we had.
IN THE HOUSE: My brother-in-law is a councillor for the Enoch Cree Nation, and it was interesting to talk politics with him, as he is one of 10 individuals, including the chief, wanting to make for a better tomorrow for Enoch.
As many differences as there are in native and mainstream Canadian society, there are still those commonalties of social programs, infrastructure, economy, and education that every council has to deal with.
It’s good to see how my brother-in-law is making a difference in the place he calls home.